Photograph: Mario BraunPhotograph: Mario Braun


Name of Monument:

Palace of the Sugar Refinery

Also known as:

Rikard Benčić Engine Factory

Location:

Rijeka, Goransko-riječka County, Croatia

Contact DetailsPalace of the Sugar Refinery
Krešimirova 28
10000 Rijeka
The City of Rijeka  (Responsible Institution)

Date:

1752; 1780; 1789

Artists:

Unknown artist

Denomination / Type of monument:

Commercial, factory

History:

A decree issued by Maria Theresia in 1750 granted privileges to Dutch merchants for the foundation of a sugar company in Trieste. The trade house Proli & Arnoldt of Antwerp was granted the privilege. At the beginning of 1752, the foundations of the sugar refinery plant were finalised and by the end of the same year, the administrative building was finished. The complex was also the residence of the company's directors. By the end of the 1750s, there were additional buildings and in 1785, following a fire, reconstruction and redecoration were undertaken. Owing to political circumstances, the production of sugar ceased in 1814. In 1834, the Patriotic Society of Rijeka bought the plant to house army forces. The army used the company's buildings until 1851, after which time it became a state-owned tobacco factory. In 1949, the plant enjoyed a new lease of life as an engine factory, named after a Second World War hero, Rikard Benčić.

Description:

The palace is a single-winged, multi-storey building. It stretches from a high ground-floor over a mezzanine, to three upper storeys and an attic. The plan, based on two axes, has a transverse axis determined by the main staircase, projected as a block on the northern façade, and a large room (salon) on each floor on the south façade. On the south side, facing the sea, there is a huge entrance hall that stretches up to the mezzanine floor, above this is another hall that was originally one room with a corridor but which today is a salon. On the second floor, the grand hall, the most luxurious room in the palace, extends in height to the third floor. The longitudinal axis is set in an east–west direction, defined by long corridors on all floors. On the second floor, atrium-shaped corridors extend to the third-floor attic, lit by skylights in the arcaded galleries. The designers of this prime Classicist ambience, which was beyond doubt used by the company's directors for receptions and balls, remain unknown. Peter de Vierendeels, at the time the director of the factory, was responsible for the reconstruction of the building and the refurbishment of the famous Salon with its panoramic views in the west part of the second floor. Vierendeels had the walls covered in wall paintings of imaginary cityscapes, framed by decorative strips with flowers, ribbons and chinoiseries.

View Short Description

The administrative building (palace) of the former sugar refinery in Rijeka is part of a larger complex, known today as the Rikard Benčić Engine Factory. The building’s Late Baroque structure is preserved. During the 18th century, the palace had both a commercial and residential function. Centrally located, it was the grandest building of the sugar refinery complex, run by the Privileged Company of Trieste and Rijeka from 1750 to 1828. Built facing the sea in the Brajda area west of the city, the palace lost its view along with its affinity with the sea, when the city later expanded beyond the coastline.

How Monument was dated:

Archival sources and inscriptions.

Special features

Staircase

Central area (opposite the entrance hall), Palace of the Sugar Refinery

Reconstructed in 1780

Unknown architect

The Imperial-style staircase has three flights. It bears characteristics typical of the 1780s, consisting of superimposed columns, strips and cornices originally painted in a marble paint finish, while the railing has a decorative motif of a square meander, which also points to the Early Classical language of architecture.

Imaginary cityscape in the Salon with Panoramic Views

Second floor, west salon, Palace of the Sugar Refinery

1789

Unknown painter

The wall paintings of imaginary cityscapes reveal the influence of the architectural drawings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

Vault of the Grand Hall

Second floor, Palace of the Sugar Refinery

1789

Unknown artist

The vault is divided into four sections by diagonal strips. In between each section, there are round medallions with scenes from Roman military history, as well as emblems with the motifs of antique military equipment: shields, torches and flags.

Grand Hall

Second floor, Palace of the Sugar Refinery

1789

Unknown decorative artist

The most significant and artistically most important room in the building is the Grand Hall on the second floor, designed after the fire of 1785. Stucco decorations on the walls imitate grey marble with dark veins, while at one time those of the vault were painted light yellow. Architectural decoration powerfully articulates the surfaces.

Selected bibliography:

Majer, K., Puhmajer, P., The Palace of the Sugar Refinery in Rijeka, Rijeka, 2008.

Citation of this web page:

Krasanka Majer, Petar  Puhmajer, Mirjana Repanić-Braun "Palace of the Sugar Refinery" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;hr;Mon11;31;en

Prepared by: Krasanka MajerKrasanka Majer

SURNAME: Majer
NAME: Krasanka

AFFILIATION: Croatian Conservation Institute, Zagreb, Croatia

TITLE: PhD, Conservation Specialist

CV:
Krasanka Majer is a Conservator and Art Historian at the Research and Documentation Department of Croatian Conservation Institute.
, Petar PuhmajerPetar Puhmajer

SURNAME: Puhmajer
NAME: Petar

AFFILIATION: Croatian Conservation Institute, Zagreb, Croatia

TITLE: PhD, Conservation Specialist

CV:
Petar Puhmajer is a Conservator and Art Historian at the Research and Documentation Department of Croatian Conservation Institute.
, Mirjana Repanić-BraunMirjana Repanić-Braun

SURNAME: Repanić-Braun
NAME: Mirjana

AFFILIATION: Institute of Art History, Zagreb

TITLE: PhD, Scientific Consultant

CV:
From 1981 to 1982 Mirjana Repanić-Braun was a curator of the Academy’s collection of sculpture in the Gliptoteque of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences; from 1983 to 1998 she worked in the Croatian Academy’s Archives for Visual Arts. Mirjana has been employed as a researcher at the Institute of Art History in Zagreb since 1998: from 2001, as head of the scientific project Baroque Painting, Sculpture and Crafts of Continental Croatia, and since 2006, as head of the scientific project Baroque, Classicism and Historicism in the Arts of North Croatia. Mirjana teaches Art History at the universities of Rijeka and Split. At the University of Zagreb, she participates at doctoral level in the Faculty of Croatian Studies and the Faculty of Philosophy.

Translation by: Petar PuhmajerPetar Puhmajer

SURNAME: Puhmajer
NAME: Petar

AFFILIATION: Croatian Conservation Institute, Zagreb, Croatia

TITLE: PhD, Conservation Specialist

CV:
Petar Puhmajer is a Conservator and Art Historian at the Research and Documentation Department of Croatian Conservation Institute.

Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: HR 44

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